Volume 95, Issue 83

Tuesday, March 12, 2002
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Men with Brooms will sweep you off your seat

Time Machine needs tweaking

Ice hits audience with laughter

Black's back, no thanks to Osama

Men with Brooms will sweep you off your seat

Men with Brooms

Starring: Paul Gross, Leslie Nielsen, Molly Parker, Polly Shannon

Directed by: Paul Gross

Three 1/2 stars (out of five)

By Kristina Lundblad
Gazette Staff

Gazette File Photo

At first glance, it seems doubtful a story about curling could keep an audience's attention, but Men with Brooms succeeds by mixing quirky humour and typical Canadian stereotypes with a little bit of love on the side.

Written and directed by Canadian Paul Gross, Men with Brooms takes an underdog sports team and trains them for the big game.

The story begins when Chris Cutter (Paul Gross) hooks up with his old curling team in Long Bay, Ontario after their beloved coach dies and requests their reunion in his will. Despite showing initial signs of being a lacklustre team, the curling pride of Long Bay finds the drive and the passion to make a run at the Golden Broom curling championship.

Throughout the film, the audience is drawn into the personal lives of the players, such as mortician Neil Bucyk (James Allodi), whose cold, heartless wife (Kari Matchett) is cheating on him and Eddie Strombeck, (Jed Rees) whose low sperm count has been a hindrance in getting his wife (Jane Spidell) pregnant.

There's also James Lennox (Peter Outerbridge), who can't remember the name of the girl he's dating, and also has a raging thug on his tail due to a debt he owes. Rounding out the supporting cast is Cutter's dad (Leslie Nielsen), who helps get the team in tip-top shape, while munching on home-grown mushrooms on the sidelines.

The quirky subplots help push the film forward with quick and concise scenes, and at the same time, the lovable characters evoke sympathy from the viewer.

The main romance revolves around Cutter, who comes face-to-face with the bride he left at the alter (Michelle Nolden), while her alcoholic sister (Molly Parker) tries to hold back her feelings for him. Unfortunately, the characters aren't quite developed enough for the audience to become emotionally invested in their romantic fates.

Luckily, the romantic-comedy aspect of the film doesn't overpower the main theme of the game and is just a pleasant addition to the overall plot.

The passion this little Ontario town feels for the sport is portrayed perfectly, as they close up shop with "Gone Curling" signs and pour afternoon tea from curling rock teapots.

Flashes of Tim Horton's coffee cups, Moosehead beer and a band of beavers blocking a road poke fun at Canadian stereotypes, but are also comforting reminders that this film contains pure, Canadian content.

The film's opening features the landscape of Northern Ontario with a Scottish piper marching around in the distance and a familiar camp song seeping into the background. As the shot pans to beavers chopping down a tree, the audience can't help but laugh.

The soundtrack for Men with Brooms features Canadian artists like Chantal Kreviazuk, Our Lady Peace and The Tragically Hip. The Hip also form the film's Kingston curling team.

Similar to British comedies, Men with Brooms uses subtle and quick-witted humour throughout the film's entirety, rather than aiming for belly-aching laughs. The actors look like regular people – not supermodels – and could easily be mistaken for your neighbours.

Despite moments of schmaltz and an abundance of Canadian stereotypes, the film finds its strength in its familiarity.

Men with Brooms is acceptable, if not welcomed, because it differentiates itself as truly Canadian – beavers and all.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002